Science and spoken word collide in poetry project


Colourful letters and lines on a black background, with the words: experimental words

Four Imperial academics have teamed up with poets to turn their scientific and creative interests into spoken word performances.

The Experimental Words project, which releases an album of tracks today, was originally devised by public engagement expert Dr Sam Illingworth (Associate Professor in Academic Practice, Napier University) and poet Dan Simpson (poet-in-residence at Imperial College London, Glastonbury Festival, and St Albans Cathedral).

It features four Imperial academics, including a physicist exploring the Earth’s magnetic field, an engineer teaching important skills to the next generation, and two surgeons investigating performance and expertise in their field.

It also features Dr Robin Lamboll, from the Grantham Institue - Climate Change and Environment, in his capacity as a champion slam poet. He worked with Dr Susannah Lydon at the University of Nottingham to create a piece about her work on fossil plants.

Along with spoken word performances from poets and scientists, the tracks on the Experimental Words album use music and sound effects for an epic exploration of the creative power of the performing arts and science.

In the audio clips below, we speak to each of the academics about how they got involved and what it was like working with a poet, and share clips from the tracks. You can listen to all four interviews as a playlist, and download the whole album of tracks on Bandcamp.

‘Beyond Visible Noise’ - Martin Archer and Shareefa Energy

Stephen Hawking Fellow Dr Martin Archer, from the Department of Physics at Imperial, researches the Earth’s magnetic field and how its interaction with the solar wind creates space weather. He is also passionate about public engagement. He teamed up with UK Entertainment Best Poet 2017 Awardee Shareefa Energy to explore science and sound.

‘Communion with the Fabric’ - Roger Kneebone and Rick Dove

Imperial Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science Roger Kneebone, who authored the book Expert: Understanding the Path to Mastery, teamed up with London-based poet Rick Dove. Together they explored the idea of science as performance, and how improvisation can be pivotal to the beginnings of scientific collaborations.

‘Homunculi’ - Sam Gallivan and Elle Dillon-Reams

Dr Samantha Gallivan combines her work as Deputy Academic Lead in Imperial’s Faculty of Medicine, where she leads part of the MEd in Surgical Education, with her clinical practice as an orthopaedic surgeon. She collaborated with poet and theatre-maker Elle Dillon-Reams to explore the act of performance, whether that’s performing a piece of creative art or a complicated surgery.

‘Glass Bridge’ - Sunday Popo-Ola and Malaika Kegode

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Research and Teaching Fellow Dr Sunday Popo-Ola collaborated with writer, performer and producer Malaika Kegode. Together they brought to life Sunday’s passion for teaching the creativity needed to flourish in engineering, and how engineers save countless lives through design.


Hayley Dunning

Hayley Dunning
Communications Division

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 2412

Show all stories by this author


Podcast, Comms-strategy-Wider-society, Arts, Outreach
See more tags

Leave a comment

Your comment may be published, displaying your name as you provide it, unless you request otherwise. Your contact details will never be published.